Pearls Of Wisdom
Rick Perlstein is a good progressive, a spirited and prodigious author and as importantly a good friend.
In this New Republic column (mark this down folks, only Rick and maybe one or two others would get me to link to this magazine), he could not be more right about the Republican playbook for smearing opponents.
This should be a must read for every Democrat running for office. Anywhere. Period.
Faggot. Nigger. Bitch.As Rick so eloquently argues, these attacks are not random. They are based on themes which play to the worst aspects of human devlopmental history. This is why I quote my favorite historian, Richard Hofstadter, so often. Because he understood the psychological appeals to resentment, paranoia and insecurity that Republicans successfully employ (as well as members of the far right and far left in the past) perhaps better than anyone else.
Please excuse the blunt language. From here forward, to avoid the ugly words, I'll refer to it as "FNB politics." With little to show the electorate in 2008--after six years of uninterrupted control--besides sub-standard care from a privatized workforce at Walter Reed Hospital, thrice-married "family values" presidential candidates, and a boom in home foreclosures, the conservative base's 2008 strategy has begun to emerge: Weaken the major Democratic opponents by making their image unpalatable to the public.
Ann Coulter might have been the one to use the precise word aloud. But the effort to discredit John Edwards as not really a man began soon after he came to national prominence as John Kerry's running mate. And the endeavor fits into a running conservative pattern--one Ann Coulter's most important patron, Roger Ailes of Fox News, knows perfectly well. In The Selling of the President, Joe McGinniss relates an episode where Richard Nixon's set dressers had the candidate in front of a turquoise curtain. Ailes, Nixon's detail-obsessed TV guru, had a conniption. "Nixon wouldn't look right unless he was carrying a pocketbook," he grumbled, ordering the curtains replaced by wood panels with "clean, solid, masculine lines."
Along similar lines, Rush Limbaugh calls the insufficiently martial Iraq Study Group "James Baker's Fruit Salad." To those with good memories who pay very close attention, this is a reference to the former secretary of state's preference that the report be considered in its entirety rather than picked over like a fruit salad. But, to right-wingers who've forgotten that (the lion's share, no doubt), the nickname made just as much sense. The report recommended diplomacy. Isn't that kind of ... fruity? And, in a nod to Ailes, Limbaugh has taken to calling Fox News's chief competitor "PMSNBC."
John Kerry is said to "look French." John Edwards is called "The Breck Girl." Al Gore is made fun of for wearing "Earth tones" and getting wardrobe advice from "Naomi Wolf." See the pattern? They do it with race and the masculinization of women too.
Furthermore, they do the opposite with their own people, as Bush wears a flight suit and is portrayed as "resolute" and "a strong leader." Meanwhile, we had pictures of this panzy in a cheerleader outfit from high school and did nothing with them. Do you know what the other side would have done with that kind of a gold mine?
Because whether you like it or not, IT WORKS.
Democrats must be ready for this in 2008. It's political malpractice if they're not prepared at this point.